As I type, I’m on the Eurostar chunneling from England to France. I just pulled up our archives, to decide which post I should update next, and this dairy-free crème anglaise recipe appeared. Crème anglaise is French for “English cream,” which struck me as funny and fortuitous.
I first shared this tofu crème anglaise recipe way back in 2006. That was long before we did photos, and back when our format was quite rough, so it is time for a big makeover.
This Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise is a Healthier Vanilla Custard Sauce
So many years ago, this creative dessert topping recipe was shared with us from The Peaceful Palate: Fine Vegetarian Cuisine by Jennifer Raymond. Traditional crème anglaise is made with heavy dairy cream and egg yolks, but Jennifer’s version is both dairy-free and egg-free. She uses an interesting collection of ingredients to create a creamy, custard-like sauce that’s plant-based and quite nutritious. Here are some of my notes to help you find these foods, or substitute them if needed.
You must use silken tofu in this recipe, which purees into a smooth, creamy liquid. Jennifer uses soft silken tofu. If you can only locate firm silken tofu, then you can reduce the starch, possibly in half. If you need a soy-free option, you can substitute full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream for the tofu. The dairy-free crème anglaise that results will be richer and higher in fat and will have hints of coconut in the flavor.
Jennifer uses a vanilla rice milk beverage, which is a bit sweet. You might want to add a touch of additional sweetener if you opt to use a less sweet type. Keep in mind that milk beverages with more thickeners, like pea protein milk, might thicken up a little more. Milk beverages with simpler ingredient lists are best to use in sauces.
Barley Malt Powder
I must admit, I’ve never used this ingredient myself! Barley malt powder is a natural sweetener that’s typically used to make malted milk. It has a distinctive nutty, earthy flavor, and it contains barley gluten, but not dairy. You can substitute another dry sweetener, or you can simply omit it if you think the dairy-free crème anglaise is sweet enough.
Arrowroot starch is often sold in natural food stores, but it’s sometimes found with the spices instead of the other starches. In a pinch, you can substitute non-GMO cornstarch.
This sweetener will provide a little warmth and rich flavor. If needed, you can substitute another mild liquid sweetener, like agave nectar.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian. I have included soy-free (tofu substitute) and gluten-free (barley malt powder substitute) options in the ingredient notes above.
- 5.25 ounces (half of a 10.5-ounce package) soft silken tofu
- ½ cup vanilla dairy-free milk beverage, divided (Jennifer uses rice milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple juice concentrate
- 2 teaspoons barley malt powder (see post above for substitute options)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Put the tofu, ¼ cup milk beverage, apple juice concentrate, and barley malt powder in your blender. Puree until completely smooth.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup milk beverage and arrowroot starch until dissolved.
- Pour the tofu mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 1 minute. Whisk in the arrowroot mixture and cook until the sauce is thickened.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla until combined.
- Use hot, warm, or cooled over fresh fruit or cake. If you have any leftover, let the sauce cool completely, then cover and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.